Palm Reader / Flesh Trench / Yearbook / We Never Learned To Live / Eschar [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 24/5/14]
Genrebomb and the Boileroom are always a great combination if you’re looking for an epic night out. Throw in local promoters GU1 PUNX, and you’ve got something really special; an eclectic evening of varied and exciting bands.
It’s been a long time since I last saw Eschar live, and they’ve used that time extremely well. As an instrumental tech-metal act, you’d expect them to be tighter than a pair of undersized jeggings and know all the tricks and licks in the book. They are, and they do – but unlike most metalheads, Eschar don’t stop there.
The “instrumetal” label is far too restrictive to fully describe exactly what Eschar do; their brand of crushing heaviness is epic in scale, massively polyrhythmic and performed with exactly the right balance of precision and passion. Mile long lengths of odd-meter riffing give way to right-angle tangents a la Between The Buried And Me; guitar and bass harmony parts dance over quicksand-in-a-blender drums; and a new tune taken from Eschar’s upcoming second album ends the set with a Plains of the Purple Buffalo-era *shels vibe, all mature melody encapsulated even within extended tapping extravaganzas.
Eschar are simultaneously exhilarating, relaxing, and awe-inspiring. Wow.
We Never Learned To Live
I missed this set due to a long conversation about hallucinogens and psychopaths, and now want to kick myself so hard that I’ll probably have to hire someone to do it for me.
When these guys are onstage, you definitely know about it. Combating chatty audience members with out of the gate acrobatics, pissed off punk energy, and catchy and complex tunes, Yearbook have clearly poured an immense amount of time and attention into what they do. By the end of their set the crowd filled the room, and every face faced stageward. Yearbook simply will not – and once they’re plugged in, cannot – be ignored.
As for the music itself, you get old-school punk energy, new-school commercial awareness, Biffy Clyro-level complexity, and near flawless musicianship. Even when the band crashes mid-song, it’s dealt with without flustered confusion, and after a quick bit of banter (“We’re looking for a new guitarist now – literally anyone”) Yearbook break back in where they left off. True professionals on top of everything else. Overall, this set is a real rock show that delivers all you could ask for. Except pyros. Maybe next time?
This set definitely happened.
Flesh Trench are, first and foremost, a comedy band – but that tag does not even begin to do them justice. With blink-and-you’ll-miss-them songs that deconstruct such intellectually intricate topics as “curb-stomping prostitutes” and whether or not JFK was Lee Harvey Oswald’s father; mid-set wrestling matches; a crowd-roaming clown bearing a tray of shot glasses full of Tabasco sauce; and a frontman offering a baby’s bottle full of chocolate milk to those crushed against the barrier, you can honestly only begin to see what I mean. Flesh Trench will either stun you stupid or make you run for the door. Here, nobody chose the latter. Good on them; I thought it was hilarious.
Overall, Flesh Trench’s set is kind of like the Rocky Horror Picture Show – if the Rocky Horror Picture Show had been written and performed in an asylum by a group of sociopaths pumped full of the contents of Charlie Sheen’s medicine cabinet.
I’ll be honest – hardcore isn’t my thing. That said, you’d have to be a complete moron to not respect the level of intensity that Palm Reader are capable of maintaining for the duration of their set. These guys have a serious reputation for being brutal in a live environment, and they exceeded all of my expectations – even though it’s not the kind of show I would normally go for if not reviewing a gig.
Palm Reader turn themselves inside out in the name of their art, leaving little to the imagination. But I would still love to know two things: How many crates of Relentless do they go through a night? And more than that, how the hell do they survive touring?!
Respect to all the above bands, Genrebomb, GU1 PUNX, and the Boileroom for an insane show, and Olly Dexter for the usual great sound.
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